Category News

An Unlikely Coral Reef Becomes A Source Of Quarantine Entertainment

A school of silver tomate grunts, as seen one recent afternoon.

County and municipal marinas are closed, popular sandbars are empty for the first time in recorded history, and there are no cruise ships packed with passengers sailing out of South Florida’s ports. On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on when it comes to life on the water, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

That’s on the surface.

Below the surface, an unlikely coral reef has recently transformed into a welcome distraction for those stuck at home during the pandemic.

On the east end of Port Miami, a live webcam is trained on the reef that popped up along dredging work that took place in 2010. The webcam broadcasts live 24-hours a day, capturing a dizzying variety of wildlife, with flurries of color that change as the sun rises and falls.

Below the surface, an unlikely ...

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Hawaii conservation groups file white-tip shark lawsuit

White tip reef shark (Triaendodonobesus)

The National Marine Fisheries Service was asked in a lawsuit filed in Hawaii to protect Pacific oceanic white-tip sharks, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The environmental law firm Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of several conservation groups, including the Conservation Council for Hawaii and Michael Nakachi, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and owner of a local scuba diving company, the Garden Island reported.

“No protections exist to prevent fisheries from capturing oceanic white-tip sharks as bycatch,” said Moana Bjur, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii. “That needs to change if we are to prevent this incredible apex predator from going extinct. That’s why we’re going to court.”

The lawsuit all...

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Our oceans are suffering, but we can rebuild marine life

Indonesia coral

It’s not too late to rescue global marine life, according to a study outlining the steps needed for marine ecosystems to recover from damage by 2050. University of Queensland scientist Professor Catherine Lovelock said the study found many components of marine ecosystems could be rebuilt if we try harder to address the causes of their decline.

“People depend on the oceans and coastal ecosystems as a source of food, livelihoods, carbon capture and, thanks to coral reefs, mangroves and other coastal ecosystems, for protection from storms,” Professor Lovelock said.

“But people are having enormous impacts globally and it’s time to do what we must to ensure our oceans are healthy and vibrant for generations to come.”

The research revealed many examples of recovery of marine populations, habita...

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Climate crisis pushed reefs to ‘tipping point of near-annual bleaching’

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas on Feb. 20, 2017.

Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs.

Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Guardian Australia there was a risk that mass bleaching seen along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event.

Tropical coral reefs tend to be at a higher risk of bleaching during times when the Pacific Ocean is in a phase known as El Niño. The latest bleaching on the reef has hit during this cycle’s neutral phase.

“The real concern is with this much bleaching with...

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Home school with a virtual dive into the ocean

Remote diving is the new remote working. Schools, events and activities in so much of the world have come to a standstill in the wake of COVID-19, with little or no movement recommended. But that does not mean we cannot still enjoy the world and mysteries that abound below and above its surface.

The Ocean Agency, a partner of the United Nations Environment Programme, is inviting parents and their little ones to experience the ocean and its astounding life forms from the comfort of their homes through a little armchair travel.

Get inspired and engaged with virtual dives, expeditions and ocean quizzes about the fascinating underwater world in a click on your phone or laptop.

Discover coral reefs—some of the Earth’s most diverse ecosystems, full of color, life and mystery—and why they are va...

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Protecting the high seas would mark a huge step in ocean conservation

The high seas start 200 nautical miles from shore, a remoteness that for centuries helped shield these waters from the impacts of human activities. Photo: Pexels

The ocean, as we’re all learning quickly, isn’t too big to fail. Every week brings more news of warming waters, declining species, increasing marine pollution, and the consequences of leaving those problems unaddressed. To give marine wildlife and ecosystems—and the billions of people who depend on them—a shot at a sustainable future, policymakers around the world must take decisive action soon.

Fortunately, the United Nations appears poised to do its part. UN member countries are close to finalising a treaty that would bring much-needed protections to the high seas—the waters beyond national jurisdiction that make up nearly two-thirds of the ocean.

The high seas start 200 nautical miles from shore, a remoteness that for centuries helped shield these waters from the impacts of hu...

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Engineers unlock secrets to swimming efficiency of whales, dolphins

Are captive dolphins happy?

Someday, underwater robots may so closely mimic creatures like fish that they’ll fool not only the real animals themselves but humans as well. That ability could yield information ranging from the health of fish stocks to the location of foreign watercraft. Such robots would need to be fast, efficient, highly maneuverable, and acoustically stealthy. In other words, they would have to be very much like bottlenose dolphins or killer whales.

“We’re interested in developing the next generation of underwater vehicles so we’re trying to understand how dolphins and whales swim as efficiently as they do,” says Keith W. Moored, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics in Lehigh University’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science...

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Florida’s fight with sea level rise

Florida beach on a beautiful day

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are dreaming of Florida as a retreat from long days of self-isolation. Hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, azure skies, shimmering oceans, teeming wilderness including barrier reefs and the Everglades, and strands of picturesque keys and islets. But this paradise is staring down a menace of its own — a rising sea level — and it’s time for a paradigm shift to help us save the Sunshine State. How that battle plays out will have huge implications for other coastal regions across the rest of the United States.

Floridians are experiencing the undeniable impacts of sea level rise firsthand on a daily basis. For Florida’s environment, the signs of danger and damage are everywhere. Saltwater is inundating the Florida Bay, exacerbating an...

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Great Barrier Reef hit by third major bleaching event in five years

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas on Feb. 20, 2017.

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its most widespread coral bleaching event, according to scientists who say record warm temperatures and warming oceans are threatening its fragile corals. The entire Great Barrier Reef and some of its surrounding areas are facing an unprecedented period of heat stress in what is the third major bleaching event in only the past five years. Heat-induced bleaching can occur periodically, but scientists say climate change is causing the destructive events to happen more frequently, which is particularly troubling because corals don’t have enough time to recover and grow back.

The reef’s last major bleaching event occurred in 2017, and scientists weren’t expecting another one so soon, said Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad...

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A new tool for identifying climate-adaptive coral reefs

Coral bleaching caused by climate change

Climate change is threatening the world’s coral reefs, and saving them all will prove impossible. A team from EPFL has developed a method for identifying corals with the greatest adaptive potential to heat stress. The research, published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, should support improved and better-targeted marine biodiversity conservation strategies.

Coral reefs are home to up to one-third of global marine biodiversity and, as such, are a high conservation priority. Yet these precious ecosystems have declined rapidly in the past 20 years, resulting in significant species loss and bringing socioeconomic hardship to tropical regions of the world that rely heavily on fishing and tourism. This decline is driven by bleaching, the process by which coral dies.

Bleaching occurs ...

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